Monday, December 26, 2005

New Year's Day, January 1, 2006: normal collections

Because New Year's Day (January 1, 2006) falls on a Sunday, County-provided recycling and trash collections will be on their normal days. The collection schedule will not change during this holiday week.

Full holiday announcement

Friday, December 23, 2005

It's a wrap: recycle your gifts' paper

After all of your packages are unwrapped, what to do with the package trimmings?

Regular wrapping paper and tissue paper (for example, what you might use to wrap a shirt before placing it lovingly into a gift box) may go into your blue paper recycling cart.

Things which should go out as trash [if you cannot reuse them :-) ] include:

  • foil-stamped paper and gift bags

  • plastic-coated paper and gift bags

  • plastic films

  • ribbons and bows

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas Day, December 25, 2005: normal collections

Because Christmas Day (December 25, 2005) and New Year's Day (January 1, 2006) fall on Sundays, County-provided recycling and trash collections will be on their normal days. The collection schedule will not change during these two holiday weeks.

Full holiday announcement

Friday, December 16, 2005

Damascus Beauty Spot closed December 17 + 18, 2005

After the roads are sanded and salted… the supplies need to be restocked.

For this reason, the Damascus Beauty Spot (located at a Highway Maintenance Depot) will be closed this weekend, December 17 and 18, 2005 -- new loads of salt will be coming in.

The Poolesville Beauty Spot will be open for its normal weekend hours.

More information about our facilities and their hours

Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday, December 9, 2005: normal collection

Montgomery County-provided recycling and trash collections are on their normal schedule today. There are no pickup changes due to today's snow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tuesday, December 6, 2005: normal collections

Montgomery County-provided recycling and trash collections are on their normal schedule today. There are no pickup delays or other changes due to last night's snow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Recycling Co-op for small businesses in Silver Spring

Under an arrangement put in place by the County, six Silver Spring businesses will share the costs of hiring a private recycling contractor, allowing the businesses to save money and recycle more. By combining their refuse collection services and adding recycling to their service, it is estimated that each business will save between $38 and $227 a month.

The County will be monitoring the success of the program and already has plans to form additional recycling cooperatives in Wheaton and Bethesda.

Details in news release

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thanksgiving Day holiday

Thursday, November 24, 2005 ~ Thanksgiving Day ~ is a recycling and trash holiday. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be one day later than normal.

If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact
our Customer Service staff
online or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply -- check with your hauler or community manager.

Thursday, 11/24/05, Happy Thanksgiving to you! No collections.
Friday, 11/25/05, Thursday's pick-ups
Saturday, 11/26/04, Friday's pick-ups

Shady Grove Transfer Station:
closed: Thursday, November 24, 2005.
reopens with normal hours: November 25, 2005.

Damascus and Poolesville Beauty Spot:
open normal hours: November 26 and 27, 2005.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Nov. 11, 2005, Veterans Day: normal schedule

Friday, November 11, 2005 ~ Veterans Day ~ is a regular recycling and trash collection day. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be made on their normal schedule.

If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff online or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Composting and Resource Recovery Facility win awards!

Our Resource Recovery Facility received the Solid Waste Association of North America's 2005 Gold Excellence Award in the Waste-to-Energy Division.

Our Composting Facility received a 2005 Silver Excellence Award in the Waste Reduction, Recycling and Composting Division.

This awards program recognizes technically and economically-sound municipal solid waste management programs that are protective of public health and the environment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Damascus Beauty Spot closed Oct. 29-30

The Damascus Beauty Spot will be closed this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 29 and 30, 2005.

The Poolesville Beauty Spot will be OPEN for its normal weekend hours.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Announcing... the new Use It Again Guide

Our printed "Use It Again" guide to reuse, repair, and rental opportunities in Montgomery County has been popular since its very first printing.

About 4 years ago, we had a tech-savvy high school student intern who coded an online version of Use It Again for us. When you have a resource you love, and use it often, your wishes for it start to grow... and grow...

So, we revamped the online Use It Again from the ground up, building in a number of new features for both the end-user and the administrative side. Please enjoy the new version, launched this afternoon, and let us know what you think.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Lids: why not plastic?

What's the matter with putting plastic lids into our recycling bins?

Reasons why we cannot accept plastic lids include these:
  • These lids and caps are made from a different molding process than the plastic bottles and jars which we do accept.
  • The lids and caps are often "sandwiches" of several plastic resins. For example, the lid itself might be one resin, and contain a thin liner made from another resin. We need to be able to sort items into categories of a single resin.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Can I recycle lids?

Last week, I received a phone message from a resident:
I'm confused about recycling! Your website has some information about lids, but I still have questions!

I have updated our "how to" webpages with additional details about caps and lids from plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars, and metal cans. In short, we cannot accept any plastic lids or caps; we do take metal lids.

Friday, October 07, 2005

TRRAC: Property Manager's Guide

Our "Property Manager's Guide to Recycling" is now online. This handbook is published by TRRAC, our recycling program for apartments and condominiums. Whether developing a new recycling program or maintaining an existing one, this publication is a comprehensive resource for property managers.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Oct. 10, 2005: Columbus Day holiday - normal schedule

Monday, October 10, 2005 ~ Columbus Day ~ is a regular recycling and trash collection day. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be made on their normal schedule.

If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff online or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Newsletter Helper: Apples, nuts, and other fall "yard trim"

Oops! The August 2005 Newsletter Helper slipped past this blog without a mention! With the official change of seasons last week, the topic is as timely as ever.

Here's the teaser: "Autumn brings with it falling leaves… as well as falling acorns, other nuts, and unwanted fruits such as apples. How do you get rid of those? Set them out with your yard trim for recycling collection!"

Yard Trim Labels: PYO

At the local orchards, "PYO" at this time of year means Pick Your Own delicious, juicy, crunchy apples. [for some apple picking of your own, try the Montgomery County Farm Directory.

Our lastest PYO is Print Your Own...

For more efficiency, I would like to suggest you post the "yard trim" label as a PDF. By the time I get to the library, I always forget to get the labels. But I'd print it out after I read your newsletter and use it.

We received this suggestion in our Electonic Mailbag. So, E., this one's for you! We (usually) have labels at the libraries, and we are happy to send some to you through the mail. Still, if you need a label right away, it's now just a click away, delivered to your printer.

Newsletter Helper: Show us the green (labels)!

The September 2005 Newsletter Helper from the Division of Solid Waste Services is now available. This month's feature is "Yard Trim Labels: Show us the green!" Letting your collection crew see green helps you avoid seeing red because of missed yard trim collections. Montgomery County’s green yard trim labels are signals to crews, helping them easily spot the cans of leaves, grass, and brush you may have set out for pickup.

Our label was redesigned over the summer. The new format is a green circle, 7" in diameter. If you've been plagued by peeling labels in the past (I was) , give these a try. We used a different label material, and this one should stick more effectively (and I'm "field-testing" one myself).

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sept. 5, 2005: Labor Day holiday - modified schedule

Monday, September 5, 2005 ~ Labor Day ~ is a recycling and trash holiday. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be one day later than normal. If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff at or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply -- check with your hauler or community manager.

The Damascus and Poolesville Beauty Spots will be open on September 3 and 4, 2005. The Shady Grove Transfer Station will be closed on Monday, September 5, 2005.

Full holiday announcement

Monday, August 08, 2005

Nonresidential Recycling: Have you filed your plan?

We recently sent letters to all Montgomery County businesses. Under our new regulations, all businesses must file a Business Recycling and Waste Reduction Plan. Therefore, this mailing included: copies of new Montgomery County Executive Regulations 15-04AM and 18-04, the Business Recycling and Waste Reduction Plan form (PDF form, Word form), a brochure and instructions.

Filing Deadlines:

* Large and medium-sized businesses (100 or more employees) due no later than August 15, 2005
* Small-sized businesses (fewer than 100 employees) due no later than September 15, 2005
* Property owners/managers filing for multi-tenant facilities due no later than August 15, 2005

Plans must be postmarked by your respective due date and mailed to:

Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services
ATTN: SORRT-Business Recycling Plan
101 Monroe Street, 6th Floor
Rockville, MD 20850

Failure to comply with these requirements is a Class B violation of Montgomery County Code. Violators are subject to fines of $100.00 for the initial violation and $150.00 per subsequent violations, levied each day the violation exists.

If you have any questions regarding the Plan or the regulations, please contact the SORRT Program by email at or call (240) 777-6400.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Use It Again: update

The St. Rose of Lima Furniture Program offers at-home collections in the Upcounty area (greater Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown). One of our website visitors let me know that the correct phone number for this program is 301-482-2947. I have updated our listing in the online "Use It Again" guide. Thank you for helping to keep the "Use It Again" guide accurate.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Use It Again: addition

Have you tried our "Use It Again" guide to repair, rental, and reuse opportunities? One of its popular categories is at-home pickups of furniture and other items. Conveniently enough, among the most recent Use It Again additions are... organizations which offer such pickups!

A Wider Circle is dedicated to creating change from the inside out. Their programs address the inner and outer needs of adults and children challenged by homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, and other health and social issues.

Getting Them Sober provides information and support to families dealing with a member's addition to alcohol.

Get details about these and other organizations offering at-home pickups

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What's wrong with this picture? - Part V

About Quiz Entry #4:
This heap was set out for regular, weekly household trash collection. The desk on the left of the pile is sporting the fluorescent orange "rejection tag." Why?

The size and quantity of the material is just a bit more than what's expected for a regular weekly set-out. The resident should have requested a bulk trash collection. (Folks with County-provided trash service may request up to 5 bulk collections per year.) Bulk collections are made on your normal trash day.

Among the reasons why we ask you to request bulk service in advance:
- the crew then knows to expect a larger volume of material
- the crew is provided with a list of exactly what you want to have taken away (that helps prevent unpleasant surprises when the workers are uncertain about what they should take for disposal or not).

Another problem with the pile in this picture is that scrap metal and trash items are all jumbled together. Scrap metal and trash are collected by two different crews. These workers are not able to seperate out the materials for you. A jumbled pile would be another reason for leaving a rejection tag and not collecting the material.

Quiz Entry #5:

Monday, July 11, 2005

What's wrong with this picture? - Part IV

About Quiz Entry #3:
That washing machine is a fine-looking piece of... scrap metal. It's out there at the curb next to the trash, with the blue bin tucked into the far right of the photo. The thing is that while trash, yard trim, and blue bin pickups are made weekly, scrap metal collections are not automatic. Those pickups are made by request, and by a separate truck. There is no fee for the service, which is provided on your recycling day; we ask only that you ask for it at least one day before your recycling day. Putting in that request is as simple as completing our online form, or calling our Customer Service staff at 240-777-6410. Then, all you need to do is to get the washer (or whatever your scrap metal items are for that request) out to the curb by 7 a.m. on your recycling day.

Quiz Entry #4:

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Shipping pallets: Free for the taking

Shipping pallets are all you’ll need to build a large, wonderful, and effective compost bin.

To learn more about building a compost bin from pallets, see the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection's publication Composting With Pallets [pdf] or its Composting Homepage.

Update: Sorry, we no longer have pallets available. But, you may often find pallets by speaking to folks staffing loading docks.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Paper recycling: staples?

Whether it's a reminder of an upcoming holiday, or an weather-related collection service alert, I always receive replies from our subscribers when I send a notice to our "Holiday Reminder List" (or any of our other lists, for that matter). The Division's email lists have created this additional line of communication, and I am delighted when subscribers use it to ask questions or share comments or concerns which have been on their mind. Keep 'em coming! From my Independence Day Reminder Notice "Mailbag":
What is the proper way to recycle magazines and catalogs with and without staples?
Staples are not a problem for our paper recycling program. So, you do not need to worry about removing them.

Please recycle your magazines and catalogs right along with your other paper -- newspaper, newspaper inserts, unwanted mail, cereal and other boxes, and the like.

If you live in a single-family home and recently received one of the County's new paper recycling carts, you may simply toss all of your paper and cardboard in there.

If you do not have a cart, just bundle your paper with twine. Or, place it into a paper bag or small cardboard box. Then, set the bundles on top of or next to your blue bin on your recycling day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

What's wrong with this picture? - Part III

About Quiz Entry #2:
We do not accept yard trimmings in plastic bags. In fact, plastic bags are the most significant "contaminant" at our Composting Facility, where leaves and grass are turned into a product marketed as Leafgro. As the leaves and grass are processed, plastic bags are chopped into ever-smaller pieces. These pieces blow around the facility, littering the grounds, getting stuck in fences, and finding their way back into Leafgro that has already been screened in final preparation for bagging or bulk sale. Those pieces must then be collected by hand, a tedious and costly undertaking.

Leaves and grass should be set at the curb in reusable containers (such as trash cans with a "Yard Trim" decal on them -- write to us or call 240-777-6410 to have decals sent to you), or in paper yard trim bags. The paper yard trim bags break down along with the material in them, becoming part of the finished compost!

Quiz Entry #3:

Monday, June 27, 2005

July 4, 2005: Independence Day Holiday

Monday, July 4, 2005 ~ Independence Day ~ is a recycling and trash holiday. All County-provided recycling and trash collections will be one day later than normal. If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please contact our Customer Service staff at or call 240-777-6410.

Note: if you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, these schedule announcements may not apply -- check with your hauler or community manager.

The Damascus and Poolesville Beauty Spots will be open on July 2 and 3, 2005. The Shady Grove Transfer Station will be closed on Monday, July 4, 2005.

Full holiday announcement

Friday, June 24, 2005

What's wrong with this picture? - Part II

In Part I, we had a paper recycling cart with a tag on it: the most common reason for this is that someone is so pleased with the cart's large capacity that he or she fills it with... trash. Because the carts are for paper only, this creates a problem. First, the wrong material is inside. Second, a full cart is heavy, and it is only the recycling trucks which are equipped with cart lifts. So, not only is the wrong material inside, but getting it out could be a challenge.

Today's "quiz entry":

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What's wrong with this picture? - Part I

Most of the time, all goes well at the curb on collection day: you set your items out in the morning, and by day's end, the trucks have come by, leaving you with emptied containers ready for the next week's accumulation.

However, sometimes, to-be-collected items are left behind by the crew. You find these things sporting "day-glo" orange stickers. Our next series of entries will take a visual tour of "tagged" items.

Tags are supposed to be filled out with an explanation of what went wrong with preparation of the offending item. If you have questions about why something was tagged, let us know by email or by calling 240-777-6410

Friday, June 17, 2005

Hazardous Waste: new collection dates

The following two Household Hazardous Waste collection events have been announced. Both sites will operate from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 8, 2005, SILVER SPRING
Silver Spring International Middle School
313 Wayne Avenue (Dale Dr. & Wayne Ave.)

Saturday, November 12, 2005, BETHESDA
Westland Middle School
5511 Massachusetts Avenue, Bethesda MD 20816
(west of Little Falls Parkway)

Reminder: the Shady Grove Transfer Station now has a permanent HHW receiving area, open year-round: Thursday through Sunday, 9 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Newsletter Helper: Dangerous Disposal

The June 2005 Newsletter Helper from the Division of Solid Waste Services is now available. This month's featured topic is "Disposal Dangers." Most of the trash received by the Division of Solid Waste Services is run-of-the-mill material. But sometimes, dangerous surprises lurk within.

Examples of dangerous materials to keep out of the trash include: mercury and mercury-containing products like thermometers and thermostats, swimming pool chemicals, car fluids, fuel, herbicides and pesticides, paint thinners and solvents, and syringe needles.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Business Recycling: newly updated Handbook

Our comprehensive Business Recycling Regulation Handbook has just been updated! Be one of the first to read or download this new edition.

The Handbook is also available in Chinese and Spanish.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Congratulations, Great Recyclers!

During our recent Recycling Awareness Week, we gave awards for "Excellence in Recycling" and Outstanding Achievement in Recycling". Receipients included businesses and organizations, apartment and condominium properties, and single-family residents. Congratulations to all!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Zip to Hazardous Waste information

This week, it got easier to get to the hazardous waste program information on our website. Simply use this shortcut:

That will zip you on over to details about our Household Hazardous Waste collections, our Ecowise program for businesses that are small-quantity generators, and our "Clean Ways to do Dirty Jobs" poster.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Have some trash with your comics

This week, Washington Post columnist John Kelly examines trash and recycling. He writes:
It all has to go somewhere. And that is the crux of the issue: Because matter cannot be created nor destroyed, where does it all go? That's the question I'll be trying to answer all this week.
Travel along with him as he hits the streets to address this question. In the weekday print version of the Washington Post, John's column is found in the Comics section.

Memorial Day Holiday -- no County collections on May 30

Monday, May 30, 2005 ~ Memorial Day ~ is a recycling and trash holiday. There are no County-provided recycling or trash collections that day. All County-provided recycling and trash collections that week will be one day later than normal.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Memorial Day Holiday -- facility schedules

Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the Beauty Spots and Transfer Station will have the following schedules:


  • Saturday, May 28, 2005: normal hours

    • open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

  • Sunday, May 29, 2005: closed


  • Sat & Sun, May 28 & 29, 2005: normal weekend hours

    • Car Entrance:

      • Saturday: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm

      • Sunday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

    • Truck Entrance:

      • Saturday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Monday, May 30, 2005: closed

Thursday, May 19, 2005

All good things come to an end

The Spring 2005 session of our Behind the Scenes course ended last night. We met for 6 consecutive 2-hour Wednesday evening classes. We also took a Saturday field trip to tour two of the more outlying facilities.

Despite so many hours together, we still parted ways with questions left unexplored! One participant remarked, "I surprised me to learn that I could learn such interesting things about trash!"

In the coming weeks, I'll use some of those questions as fodder for blog entries. And, if you have burning questions of your own about recycling and solid waste, click on the link below to tell me about them. Better yet, see you in class the next time it's offered!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Blue Bins: Where's my new one?

New and replacement recycling bins are delivered to you by our field staff and our dedicated "blue bin delivery guy." These deliveries are not made by your recycling collection crews. So, they may coincidentally be made on your recycling day, but more often than not, the your bin will arrive on another day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsletter Helper: Plastic recycling

We just posted our "Newsletter Helper" for May. This month's featured topic is plastic recycling. Montgomery County accepts all plastic bottles with necks. Many people mistakenly think we are still limited to certain resin numbers. The color of the bottle, and the resin number stamped on it in the "recycling triangle" don't matter. Newsletter Helper content is intended for convenient reuse in your own community publications. Sample some issues for yourself!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Recycling Center wins award

The Montgomery County Recycling Center has won the Solid Waste Processing Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers 2005 Facility Recognition Award in the Material Recovery Category.

Award criteria included the facility’s success in reaching its goals; innovative and technical contributions to solid waste processing; facility economics; environmental performance and safety; and, the facility’s role in integrated waste management. ASME’s award recognizes the Recycling Center’s contribution to the field of solid waste processing. We will receive the award on May 23, 2005.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Scrap Metal: Give bikes a new purpose in life

Collecting bikes for the scrap metal value beats putting them into the trash. Putting them back into service as a means of transportation is even better.

Bikes for the World, a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, offers collection events and drop-off sites all over our area. This program then delivers bicycles and spare parts to selected non-profits overseas, where the bikes provide affordable transportation to workers, students, farmers, and small businesspeople.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Scrap metal: Is it on the list?

Is the bike supposed to be picked up as scrap metal... or not?

Is that bike part of the requested collection, or did Junior forget it on the lawn?

We recently started asking you to provide an itemized list when you request a scrap metal collection (or a bulk trash collection). This does require a little more work up-front.

The benefits of this list can be invaluable. When collection crews arrive for a pick up, it is not always clear what they are to take with them. Under our improved procedure, the collection crew has your list in hand when they come to your home. And, they have instructions to pick up only what is on that list. This helps them check off to make sure they take everything you wanted them to take, and to leave the rest behind.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Blue Carts: Hold the bin

What to do with a now-surplus recycling bin?

Back in the day, you requested a second blue bin from us to hold your paper bundles. With that paper now going into your wheeled blue cart, your second bin may no longer be needed.

We are happy to take the bin back. Just call us (240-777-6410) or write to us to let us know. (Please remember to give us your address.) Then, leave the bin outside your house in a place where our Bin Picker-Upper will see it when he comes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Blue Carts: More on handles

Once your wheeled paper recycling cart has been emptied, the direction of the handle does matter.

After they have serviced the cart to remove the paper inside it, collection crews are asked to put the cart back at the curb with the handle facing the street. This signal lets their supervisor and Division of Solid Waste Services' field staff know that the cart is now empty.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Blue Carts: Handle in or handle out?

Does it matter how you set your wheeled cart at the curb?

Simply put: no, but thanks for asking!

Whether you set your cart at the curb with the handle facing the street, the handle facing your house, or even sideways ~ the cart orientation doesn't matter for our crews. Ours is a semi-automated system: the carts are manually wheeled to the truck, and then a lift on the truck tips the cart contents into the truck. The cart is then wheeled back to the curb.

If the lifting were fully automated, then the placement would be very important: the lift bar on the front of the carts has to face the street so that the lift arm can hook onto it.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Blue Carts: Why so blue?

The wheeled carts are blue. Very blue. Eye-catchingly blue. Extremely blue, for some of you. Couldn't we have picked a more subtle color?!

The choice of blue for the carts is in keeping with the color widely associated with recycling of cans, bottles, jars, and paper. The color is as much a signal for collection crews of what is inside as it is to container users.

The darker colors -- brown, green, and black -- are typically used for trash cans. When used as a signal for collection purposes, green may indicate yard trim. Similarly, brown may be associated with organics collection.

These signals make collections more efficient. Instead of having to stop to peer into every single can at the curb, crews are able to focus only on the containers set out for the material for which they are responsible. The recycling crew is on the lookout for blue carts. Trash crews, on the other hand, know to pass those carts by.

One cart recipient carefully painted the cart green. It was a good paint job. It was so good, in fact, that the recycling crew would have passed it by, leaving the household to wonder why its paper was not collected that week. The unsuspecting recycling crew, on the other hand, would have thought nothing of leaving the paper-cart-posing-as-a-trash-can unemptied.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Blue Carts: Mechanically lifted

Paper cart lift on recycling truck

Because wheeled carts full of paper can so heavy (over 200 pounds!), some residents have been worried the safety of their collection crew's backs.

The actual dumping of the carts' contents is done by lifts. The crew puts the cart in to position, hooks on the lift, and then the lift tips the cart into the hopper.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hold the confetti!

We're excited about paper recycling, though we hold the line on celebrating with confetti. That's what shredded paper has a tendency to become when it is set out for recycling...

With April 15th's tax filing now behind us, it's a good time to revisit the issue of document security and disposal. To help thwart identity thieves and others interested in your personal facts and figures, many people shred papers before setting them out for recycling. (In my household, paper in our wheeled paper recycling cart often resembles Swiss cheese after we get done snipping out address labels here and names and numbers there! We regularly compost our shreds as well -- there's no better document destruction system than a bunch of worms and their pals, and our garden reaps the benefits of their final product.)

If you have a wheeled paper recycling cart, just dump your shredded paper into it -- no additional packaging is required!

If you continue to set out your to-be-recycled paper in bundles, please put your shredded paper into a small paper bag or cardboard box. That helps prevent it from blowing around in your neighborhood as it awaits collection... and avoids creating confetti on your street.

Friday, April 15, 2005

With paint, please litter!

... with cat litter.

It is extremely expensive for us to dispose of latex paint in our Household Hazardous Waste Program. In fact, latex paint is not hazardous. Our recommendation is to "use it up, pass it on, or dry it out". Once dry, you can put cans into your regular household trash.

Cat litter is a very effective and inexpensive way to dry up paint. Mulch and shredded paper work as well. And, Waste Paint Hardener, available at McCormick Paints stores and most area hardware stores is another option.

Latex paint is the featured topic in this month's Newsletter Helper. You are welcome to use this text in your own community publications.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Duct tape only goes so far

We've seen just about every kind of blue bin repair there is. Duct tape can be used very creatively to cobble a bin back together. There comes a time, however, when it's simply time to request a replacement.

Replacement recycling bins for single-family homes and townhouses are available at no charge, and we even deliver them to your door. Order online, or call our Customer Service staff at 240-777-6410.

Let us know to pickup your old, broken bin. We'll whisk it away when we bring the new one. The broken bins are recycled.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Dream Design for Calendar

We're drafting ideas for new information pieces, which we want to make as user-friendly as possible...

What features do you wish for in a calendar? For example, one of my mother's Calendar Choosing Criteria is the largest possible squares for each day. Her life is rich in scheduled commitments, and she wants to make sure she's got enough space to write them all down without needing to cram them in. So, for Mom, we're maximizing those squares as best we can!

What calendar features make your life easier? Let us know!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Mulch it up!

Come early, come often... and bring a shovel or pitchfork with you. Our Neighborhood Mulch Preserves stock coarse mulch, available to you for free. This mulch is good for covering paths and similar areas.

Because the mulch is "green," or fresh and uncured, it is not suitable for use around your prized petunias (or other similar plants). The material is carbon-rich. As it decomposes, it creates a nitrogen demand. When that demand competes with the nitrogen needs of your plants, well, the plants tend to lose the battle. If you have the space in your yard to let the mulch age for a few months, this issue is eliminated.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Celebrate Earth Day with us!

Join us in celebrating Earth Day on Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. In addition to displays, activities, and entertainment here, we'll be running buses to the Recycling Center. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to see the Recycling Center on a weekend day! This Earth Day event will also feature two rain barrel workshops.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Blue Roadblock

You've had a long day at work. Traffic on the street where you live is heavy. It's raining, and it's dark. Your driveway is blocked. Again. Your blue bin is sitting squarely in your car's path...

Can't they get it right?! That bin was set neatly at the side of the driveway when you left this morning...

Having to move an errant bin out of the way isn't our idea of a pleasant return home either. The policy is that bins must be returned to the "point of collection" after the collection crew empties them. In other words, you should find it in the same place where you left it in the morning.

If the "point of collection" policy doesn't ring true at your address, tell us. Our staff will then work with the collection company serving your neighborhood. They'll also keep a special watch on your bin for a few weeks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

How not to feed squirrels

Bottom view of experimental food digester

Reducing as much of my household waste stream as possible means keeping food scraps out of the trash basket. Our free County-issued compost bins are great for leaves and grass. But, they are not rodent-resistant. Worm bins are one alternative ~ that's an entry for another day. "Food digesters" are another option. I'd read about them, and used a commercially-available one a few years back. Before trying a home-grown option at full-scale, I did what we do with new ideas here in the Division: I began a pilot test.

Last October, my youthful Support Staff helped me drill holes into two buckets: one metal and the other plastic, each with a capacity of about three gallons. We then dug holes, and buried each bucket about 2/3 of the way. This accomplished, we began to add food scraps, including meat. (It's the meat scraps which are especially problematic in a "conventional" compost bin.)

We've been checking on the "digesters" regularly; watch for continued reports of our progress. One of the first things we learned is that the metal can has one big drawback: it rusts. Within days, that lid was rusted shut, only to be removed with great difficulty. Since then, we don't close it tightly, lest it never come off again...

What's a "Beauty Spot"?

What's beautiful about a place to dump trash?!

The"Beauty Spots" were started by the County's Division of Highway Services (DHS) in the mid-1980s in an effort to eliminate roadside trash dumping. Roads free of litter and illegal dumping are beautiful roads... and there you have the name...

The Beauty Spots, or "convenience centers", as they are formally known, are located at DHS transportation depots: one in Poolesville at 19200 Jerusalem Road and one in Damascus at 26149 Ridge Road. While DHS still provides the daily operations at these sites, the Division of Solid Waste Services manages the contracts for hauling waste from them.

Typical materials received at the centers are large, bulky items such as home remodeling debris, furniture, white goods, and yard waste (Poolesville only).

No more scrap metal or yard trim at Damascus Beauty Spot

With warmer weather, thoughts turn to... spring cleaning! Here's a friendly reminder that scrap metal and yard trim are no longer accepted at the Damascus Beauty Spot.

So, now what? It's simple: look no further than your curb! Both of these materials are picked up weekly in the County's curbside recycling program. No special arrangements are need for collection of your leaves, grass, or brush. Please set up scrap metal collections prior to your recycling day.

Why the change? There is not enough space at the Damascus depot to set scrap metal and yard trim aside for recycling. Until now, it was all handled as trash. The curbside collection program will let us recycle that material. Also, the Beauty Spot creates lots of traffic. We're hoping that the curbside program will save many of you a trip out there, reducing the number of vehicles coming to and through the facility.

Beauty Spot address + hours

Monday, March 28, 2005

Those Blue Monstrosities

Simply put, the new paper recycling carts are big because our County's recycling goal is big: our aim is to recycle 50% of our waste stream. Paper is a significant part of that stream. Many residents continue to think that our recycling program remains limited to newspapers and their inserts. In fact,our program was expanded a few years ago to include virtually all waste paper. The primary exceptions are plastic-, wax-, and foil-coated paper, and that which has been soiled by food, etc. Cardboard is a large component of the paper we receive. The ever-increasing popularity of online ordering generates a great amount of this commodity. And, we want it all!

We don't expect the carts to be completely full of paper in any given week. Actually, another reason for the big carts is to allow residents to fill them with air! In the past, equipment contraints required us to ask that residents flatten boxes before putting them out for recycling collection. New truck machinery has changed that, and we are now able to take unflattened boxes. The carts' large capacity means that folks can just toss in cereal, tissue, shoe, etc. boxes as-is, regardless of whether that "wastes" space -- there's plenty of room in the cart to accomodate these.

We realize that the blue carts will not suit the needs of every County household. Still, we are pleased to have been able to add this container style to the selection of "recycling tools" we offer to residents.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Venturing into new territory

For a number of years, the "Behind the Scenes" course I coordinate has given folks living and/or working in Montgomery County a first-hand look into the work and programs of the Division of Solid Waste Services. By touring our facilities and by speaking directly with the managers of our programs, they come away with a much deeper understanding about what we do and why.

I ask participants to complete a number of evaluations throughout the course. Without fail, one of the primary complaints has been that, even though we covered lots of ground together, they still have lots of questions.

Leaving a course with questions can be frustrating, but it's also a mark of success. Namely, the topics and discussions have been thought-provoking.

With this blog, I'm essentially taking "Behind the Scenes" online, with entries addressing the questions we receive at our Customer Service Line, from website emails, and elsewhere. It's an experiment. Let us know what you think (or would like to know about the Division's work).

And, just as with the "Behind the Scenes" course, I'll periodically evaluate how it's going, with a final evaluation six months from now.